The Dame had a fascinating lunch this weekend with two Conservative councillors from Hammersmith & Fulham. Without being snobbish The Dame has to say she found them rather coarse- though not quite as coarse, of course, as Cllr Moylan-but far from refined. What they told the Dame, after quite few bottles of rather cheap wine and packets of pork scratchings, was disquieting.
Their Leader, Cllr 'Steve' Greenhalgh appeared to be the object of their total admiration and loyalty. But what they are particularly proud of the effortless way he has got just what he wanted in the Tri Borough negotiations. All his top staff have taken the top jobs and he has managed to negotiate a 3 month termination arrangement to fire Mr Myers, the joint Chief Executive should things not pan out.... from Steve's point of view.
From the K&C perspective we should be very worried. Our current Leader, Merrick Cockell, is years past his sell by date. He has no ongoing interest in how the new arrangements will work. Instead, to the satisfaction of street fighter, 'Steve' Greenhalgh, Cockell is proposing a boy to do a man's job. That boy is Rock Fielding Mellen, a callow, effete and inexperienced aristocratic youth.
Rock FM has a knack of getting up people's noses' with his snooty manner but he will be putty in the hands of that 'super operator' Steve Greenhalgh, the working class, no nonsense Yorkshireman who has been running rings around Cllr Cockell in the negotiations
The big event for Kensington and Chelsea in the next five years (the period when the new Leader of the Borough will be finding his or her feet) will be the little understood Tri-Borough organisation that is being constructed between K&C, Hammersmith and Westminster.
The idea of Tri Borough is to save £10 million of council tax for K&C by integrating the organisations of the three Boroughs with a combined turnover of £2 billion. Measured as a percentage of turnover, the projected saving is a joke. In terms of risk, the measurement is stratospheric.
The Dame has been poking around. Thanks to a Kensington tax payer, (with 20 years of Board level experience building joint ventures and integrating organisations), she has found out quite a lot of the dangerous detail. This resident has written to his Ward councillors with a hard hitting analysis based upon the 12 rules of integration. He claims the Tri Borough experiment is doomed and will deliver “a greatly reduced level of service at greatly increased cost”
The Leader of K&C is in the “lame duck” phase of his tenure. He will be departing early in 2012 and is more concerned about his peerage than the future. By contrast, the Leaders of Westminster and Hammersmith are relatively new and are dealing for their futures.
Westminster is having second thoughts about the Tri Borough arrangements (the fanfare last year earned brownie points for Cllr Cockell in Central Office where he pursues a place in the House of Lords.)
Now Westminster is noticeably absent from the current integration plans and-thanks to several Councillors, the brakes have been rapidly applied.
So a clarion call to residents and council tax payers, especially those of you with children at schools in the Borough or in need of Adult Social Care in the near future. Get up to speed with what is going on and if you are sufficiently worried, make life hell for your Ward councillors.
Any public company doing an integration exercise of this magnitude would have bought on board a top flight management consultant with expertise in mergers. Our Council is leaving it to Merrick Cockell, a man with a spectacularly unsuccessful business career and Derek Myers, a social worker turned Chief Executive. It is a combination which bodes badly for the future....